Penguins Episode 3: Growing Up

Emperor penguin chicks (photo courtesy of Frederique Olivier/©JDP)

Last night(*) in the second episode of Penguins: Spy in the Huddle we saw how vulnerable young penguin chicks can be.  Fortunately, the dangerous period doesn’t last long.  In this final episode they’ll grow up and become independent.  Whew!

Independence is forced on penguin chicks because they’re so hungry.  Both parents have to fish to keep up with their kids’ demands so the chicks are left largely alone.  Young emperors naturally huddle in a crèche but rockhopper teenagers have to be poked to join the group by the few non-breeding adults who watch nearby.

The crèches are safe places to learn from each other but everyone’s equally clueless.  How do we walk on ice?  What is this wet stuff (melted ice)?  My gosh, my down is falling out and I’m getting feathers!

The chicks learn to fight their attackers.  Their parents bring food.  Life is good.  And then…

Their parents don’t come back.  Amazingly this triggers a desire to walk to the ocean, a place they’ve never seen.  Everything is new but they figure it out and even get help from some unexpected allies.

By now we’re all convinced that penguins chicks are clumsy … until they jump in the ocean.  Oh my!  They fly underwater!  Faster and faster, the rockhoppers make beautiful bubble trails as they disappear in the distance.  Such joy!

Watch the final episode of Penguins: Spy in the Huddle, “Growing Up,” on PBS next Wednesday, October 8 at 8:00pm EDT.  In Pittsburgh it’s on WQED.


(*) If you missed Episode 2 last night because of the Pirates’ wildcard game, WQED will rebroadcast it on Friday Oct 3 (tomorrow) at 4:00am. Perfect for a DVR.

(photo courtesy of Frederique Olivier/©JDP via PBS NATURE)

2 thoughts on “Penguins Episode 3: Growing Up

  1. Last night’s episode was a tearjerker for me. Of course, we can’t know what the penguins are really feeling and/or thinking. We don’t know how accurate the narration comes to portraying the truth and how much is anthropomorphism. And yet, it certainly appeared that the Emperor Penguin whose chick died was experiencing sadness and confusion and that the adult that came to stand by its side was displaying compassion. I’m still trying to figure out why I felt so emotional, but I suppose it has something to do with the purity of intention, the finality of the situation and a human’s ability to relate. Oh, and it certainly does not help that the penguins, adults and chicks, are so darn cute.

    1. kc, I agree. The grieving mother and her consoling friend really made me think we all have a lot in common.

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